Nintendo have had a long history in the console market. Starting off as a card games manufacturer in 1889, the Kyoto-based company moved towards video games in the 1970s with their Color-TV Game console, containing a single game between its four versions. They later moved to the wildly successful Game & Watch console, and arcade releases such as Donkey Kong.
But it wasn’t until the Nintendo Entertainment System that Nintendo established themselves as one of the big companies within the home hardware industry. The system is widely credited with moving the industry away from the crash which had threatened to kill the business in 1983.
Since then, hardware has remained a high priority for Nintendo, boosted by a strong first party games library that captured home and handheld console markets alike, with the recent Nintendo Switch looking to cover both. It’s not always been smooth sailing however, with a variety of challengers competing over the decades for the top position and an experimental history that’s ranged from innovative to critical failures.
It was a key philosophy of Gunpei Yokoi, the game designer that helped bring Nintendo into games development, that production should focus on “Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology”. This involved prioritising use of existing technologies in new ways as opposed to chasing expensive cutting edge technology trends. It’s an approach evident with the majority of Nintendo hardware. But which did it best?